Turkey will not relinquish its rights in Aegean Sea: Erdogan
Turkey warns Greece to demilitarize and respect its sovereignty.
Turkey will not give up its rights in the Aegean Sea and will not be afraid to use the powers granted to it by international treaties, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared on Thursday while attending the Efes-2022 military exercise held on the Aegean beaches.
On the return of long-running tensions between the Aegean Sea neighbors, he said Greece should stop arming the islands with nonmilitary status and follow international agreements.
"I warn Greece to avoid dreams, acts, and statements that will result in regret. Come to your senses," he said in a televised speech as he observed the Turkish military exercises on the coast of western Izmir province.
"Turkey will not renounce its rights in the Aegean and will not back down from using rights that are established by international agreements when it comes to arming islands."
Greece is acting as if it is making touristic landings on Aegean islands, he said and added addressing Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, "You can't get anywhere with this."
"Turkey will not relinquish its rights in the Aegean Sea, will not hesitate to use its powers stemming from international agreements ... Turkey does not violate anyone's rights and laws but it does not allow the violation of its own rights and laws either," he stressed.
Exploring the Black Sea
Erdogan also stated that his country will continue to explore hydrocarbon resources in the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, citing international law.
Greece is breaking treaties by arming Aegean islands, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday, warning that the islands' sovereignty will be called into question if they are not demilitarized.
The country has been constructing a military presence on the Aegean islands in violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris, he said, adding that the islands were surrendered to Greece on the condition that they remain demilitarized.
“The agreements are there but Greece is violating them. It’s arming them. If Greece does not stop this violation, the sovereignty of the islands will be brought up for discussion,” he said. “It’s that clear. You will abide by the agreements.”
Turkey has recently increased its criticism of Greece for stationing its military on islands in the eastern Aegean, close to the Turkish coast and often visible from shore. Under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris, these islands were required to be demilitarized, hence any troops or weapons on the islands are absolutely prohibited.
In recent weeks, Turkey and Greece have traded claims of airspace infractions. Turkey is demanding that Greece demilitarize its eastern islands, claiming that such a move is required by 20th-century accords that granted Greece sovereignty over the islands.
Turkish authorities claim that Greek troops have been stationed on Aegean islands in violation of the peace treaties that ended World Wars I and II. Greece continues to militarize islands in the eastern Aegean, in contravention of both the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris.
Despite international treaties and accords, Greece insists on stationing its armed forces on the eastern Aegean islands, particularly the Dodecanese islands and small surrounding islets, including islands and islets extremely close to Turkey's western border, many within sight of the coastline.
It has stationed its armed forces on the Aegean islands since the early 1960s, despite multiple complaints from Turkey and its commitments under international treaties. Turkey has reiterated its protests in this respect, arguing to various international organizations and institutions that action should be taken on the problem and Greece's efforts should be halted. The forces are stationed in reaction to the presence of Turkish military units, aircraft, and landing craft on the opposite coast, according to Athens.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared last week that Turkey will no longer engage in high-level talks with neighboring Greece, amid escalating tensions between the traditional adversaries.
Turkey and Greece have opposing claims over jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims over their continental shelves, maritime boundaries, air space, energy, the ethnically divided island of Cyprus, the status of the Aegean Sea islands, and migrants.
Last week, Erdogan declared that Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis "no longer existed" for him, accusing him of attempting to obstruct sales of F-16 fighter fighters to Turkey during a visit to the United States.
Mitsotakis had told reporters after a European Union summit that he had briefed his EU counterparts over Turkey's "aggressiveness" and "provocations which cannot be tolerated by Greece or the European Union."